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Working to Elucidate the Mechanisms of Persistence and Pathogenesis by the Causative Agents of Lyme Disease and Relapsing Fever

 
 

RESEARCH

LYME DISEASE

RELAPSING FEVER

Research interests involving Lyme disease and Relapsing fever Borrelia species include:

  • Antigenic variation and persistence mechanisms

  • Host adaptation processes

  • Host-pathogen interactions

 

LAB MEMBERS

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TROY BANKHEAD

Principle Investigator

Over the past 17 years, I have conducted molecular genetic studies on Borrelia species that cause Lyme disease and Relapsing fever. These investigations have focused on identifying the mechanistic determinants responsible for antigenic variation, and genetic factors involved in host adaptation and pathogenesis. The design of these studies has recently evolved to bridge microbial genetics and molecular biology to bacterial pathogenesis under more natural conditions involving the enzootic cycle of the pathogen. Overall, the goal of this work is to ultimately advance our current knowledge of these processes utilized by Borrelia species as it relates to both human infection and the pathogen’s natural life cycle. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, fishing, and traveling with my family.

PREETI SINGH

Post-Doctoral Fellow

I obtained my PhD from New Delhi, India and completed first postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Maryland where I was originally trained in spirochete biology. I developed an immense interest in bacterial pathogenesis with a special emphasis on the host immune response. Thereafter, I obtained my current position in Dr. Bankhead’s lab, and am currently investigating the mechanisms of immune evasion and persistent infection by Borrelia burgdorferi. The major goal of my study is to elucidate the molecular details of the highly efficient antigenic variation system of the spirochete that is responsible for its spectacular persistence during infection of the mammalian host. Apart from the lab, whenever I get time, I like to travel around the world and learn about different cultures and societies!

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MICHAEL CROWLEY

PhD Graduate Student

After completing a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at WSU in 2014, I began working in Dr. Bankhead’s lab as a scientific assistant to gain more laboratory experience while I applied for PhD programs in structural biology elsewhere. After only a few months, I realized that the research being pursued in the Bankhead lab was far more exciting than what I had originally planned to study.  I am currently working to characterize a sRNA encoded by linear plasmid 17 which appears to play an important role in host tissue colonization through the modulation of surface antigen expression. Outside of work I spend my time bowling, playing guitar, and volunteering as an academic and professional mentor at my undergraduate fraternity here on campus.

KELLY RAMSAY KAMINSKY

Combined Pathology Resident/PhD Graduate Student

I am a graduate student within a combined residency program at WSU that allows me to train as a veterinary anatomic pathologist, while simultaneously pursuing a PhD in immunology and infectious disease. Half my time is spent as a resident pathologist at the Washington Animal Disease and Diagnostic Laboratory. I interpret biopsies, teach fourth year veterinary students and perform autopsies on a plethora of animals species, including dogs, horses, cows, fish, eagles, cougars and bears - oh my!  The remainder of the week I work on my PhD project involving gene regulation mechanisms that allow the bacteria to successfully establish infection as it moves from the tick vector into the mammalian host. My interest in zoonotic diseases started at the University of California, Davis, where I earned my DVM in 2017. In the future, I hope to work as a research pathologist in the biotechnology industry. On the weekends, my husband and I backpack, ski, travel and discover new craft breweries, often in the company of River, our beloved canine mutt (she’s half amazing, half terrific).

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JESSICA WONG

Combined Pathology Resident/PhD Graduate Student

My interest is in the pathogenesis of Lyme disease infection in mammals. In particular, I am investigating the role of an lp17-resident gene on tissue tropism, tissue damage, and spirochete persistence in the mouse model.

I'm a transplant from the east coast: I was born and raised in Charleston, SC, and obtained my BS in Biology from Duke University. I worked as a research technician at the Duke University Children’s Hospital for 2 years prior to enrolling in a DVM program at University of Georgia. I came to WSU in 2015 to pursue a combined anatomic pathology residency and PhD program. When not in the lab, I spend time gardening, hiking, and cooking with my husband, daughter, and our border collie, Sgt Pepper.

 
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YOUKI YAMASAKI

PhD Graduate Student

I am interested in researching vector-borne pathogens, particularly the interaction between the pathogen and the arthropod vector. My current project investigates the bacterial agent of Lyme Disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, and the genes induced when the bacteria enters and persists in the tick vector environment. We will utilize in vivo Expression Technology (or IVET) to identify the tick-specific induced genes. Once we identify those induced genes, we will characterize the previously undocumented or non-tick associated genes via deletion mutational analysis.

 

I strongly appreciate a good cup of coffee and conversation. I am a regular customer at Café Moro and Palouse Games in downtown Pullman. Breakfast and/or brunch is my favorite meal of the day.

DANNY POWELL

Scientific Assistant

In addition to technical support in the lab, Danny works on a project involving antigenic variation in Borrelia burgdorferi.

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ALLIE DONNELL

Undergraduate student

Infectious disease has been my passion for several years, and pursuing a Bachelor’s in microbiology has allowed me to experience that first hand. I am also a student in the WSU Honor’s College, and have obtained a Global Leadership Certificate from the Global Learning Department. Inside the lab, I am a undergraduate research assistant. Currently, I am on track to graduate in May 2020, and I plan to train to be a Clinical Laboratory Scientist at a Children’s hospital afterwards. Outside of microbiology, I enjoy playing and listening to music, as well as listening to podcasts. 

 

PUBLISHED WORK

The Fruits of Our Labor

 

Casselli T, Crowley MA, Highland MA, Tourand Y, Bankhead T. A Small Intergenic Region of lp17 is Required for Evasion of Adaptive Immunity and Induction of Pathology by the Lyme Disease Spirochete. Cellular Microbiology. e13029. doi.org/10.1111/cmi.13029, 2019. Editor's Choice Article

James AE, Rogovskyy AS, Crowley MA, Bankhead T. Cis-Acting DNA Elements Flanking the Vmp Expression Site of Borrelia hermsii are Required for Murine Persistence.  MicrobiologyOpen; e569. doi.org/10.1002/mbo3.569, 2018.

Bankhead, T. Role of the VlsE lipoprotein in Immune Avoidance by the Lyme Disease Spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi. Forum on Immunopathological Diseases and Therapeutics, Vol. 7. No. 3-4. Begel House Inc., 2016.

Magunda PR, Bankhead T. Investigating the potential role of non-vls genes on linear plasmid 28-1 in virulence and persistence by Borrelia burgdorferi. BMC Microbiology 16(1):180, 2016.

James AE, Rogovskyy AS, Crowley MA, Bankhead T. Characterization of a DNA Adenine Methyltransferase Gene of Borrelia hermsii and Its Dispensability for Murine Infection and Persistence. PLoS One, 11(5):e0155798, 2016.

Palmer G, Bankhead T, Seifert H. 2016. Antigenic Variation in Bacterial Pathogens. Microbiol Spectrum 4(1): VMBF-0005-2015, 2016.

Casselli T and Bankhead T. Use of in vivo Expression Technology for the Identification of Putative Host Adaptation Factors of the Lyme Disease Spirochete. J Mol Microbiol Biotechnol 25:349-361, 2015.

 

Rogovskyy AS, Jones CR, Owen JP, Mason KL, Scoles GA and Bankhead T. Evaluation of the Importance of VlsE Antigenic Variation for the Enzootic Cycle of Borrelia burgdorferi.  PLoS One 10(4): e0124268, 2015.

Rogovskyy AS and Bankhead T. Bacterial heterogeneity is a requirement for host superinfection by the Lyme disease spirochete. Infection and Immunity 82: 4542-4552, 2014.

Hove P, Haldorson GJ, Magunda F and Bankhead T. Presence of Arp Specifically Contributes to Joint Tissue Edema Associated with Early Onset Lyme Arthritis. Infection and Immunity 82(1):43-51, 2014.

 

Rogovskyy AS and Bankhead T. Variable VlsE is Critical for Host Reinfection by the Lyme Disease Spirochete. PLOS One 8(4):e61226, 2013.

Casselli T, Tourand Y and Bankhead T. Altered Murine Tissue Colonization by Borrelia burgdorferi Following the Targeted Deletion of Linear Plasmid 17-Carried Genes. Infection and Immunity 80(5): 1773-1782, 2012.

Full List Of Published Work

 

LAB NEWS

 

MICHAEL CROWLEY AND KELLY RAMSAY WERE AWARDED THE RON AND SHEILA PERA SCHOLARSHIP! CONGRATS MICHAEL AND KELLY!!

April 30, 2019

KELLY RAMSAY KAMINSKY SUCCESSFULLY PASSED HER PRELIM EXAM! CONGRATS KELLY!!

May 17, 2019

PUBLICATION BY MICHAEL CROWLEY NAMED EDITOR'S CHOICE FOR JULY ISSUE OF CELLULAR MICROBIOLOGY!

June 2, 2019

JESSICA WONG WAS AWARDED THE FOWLER EMERGING DISEASES GRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP! CONGRATULATIONS JESSICA!!

June 24, 2019

PREETI SINGH HAS JOINED THE LAB AS A POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW. WELCOME PREETI!!

August 15, 2019

OPEN POSITIONS




NO POSITIONS AVAILABLE CURRENTLY

 

CONTACT US

509-335-7106